The Risks of Smart Home Technology & How to stay safe
Are Smart Devices Dangerous?
What are the risks of smart home technology?
The risks of smart Home Technology are queried as often as finding the definition of a ‘Smart Home’. In the grand scheme of things, everything which is an internet-connected device is potentially dangerous.
In the grand scheme of things, everything which is an internet-connected device is potentially dangerous.
It’s worth noting, this is purely down to security patches and vulnerability from the manufacturers.
How secure is a Smart Home?
Your Smart Homes security can be overall secured by your router security, remember your home will likely be using an internet connection to external services, additionally, if your router isn’t secured, any passerby could connect.
It isn’t as simple as just changing your router password, although I do advise changing your router password every 6 months or so and making sure it’s up to date. Updating your router will keep a lot of potential exploits resolved. I use Password Generator to set my passwords.
If you’re unsure how to set your routers Wi-Fi password, this is something I, unfortunately, can’t do for you, you’ll find it’s not too hard if you just search the back of your router for a model and google search the router name + “admin login”. If you need the login details, routerpasswords has the ability to search by the manufacturer for defaults.
When updating your router, it may be referred to as “firmware”. Keeping your firmware regularly up to date not only keeps your smart home devices safe but also stops any potential exploits followed by packet sniffing which results in your website passwords and bank details etc being stolen.
Are smart plugs secure?
McAfee recently did an “insight” report on vulnerabilities in IoT products, like Smart Plugs, devices such as the Wemo Insight Smart Plug by Belkin were manufactured with an exploit known as “CVE-2018-6692”, whilst this may sound basic as it’s only for that one plug.
To break it down, the vulnerability itself allows the plug which gets ‘hacked’ to be an entry point into your network for other attacks, your home will essentially be the equivalent of the Simpsons Tree House of Horrors take on 2001 Space Odyssey.
Will Alexa buy stuff by accident?
Alexa added the option to purchase goods directly from your Amazon account simply by asking, but there are a few requirements for this:
- An Amazon Prime Membership (You can try it free for 30 days here)
- A valid payment method on your account
- A device with Alexa set up correctly
Alexa tends to not buy anything automatically unless instructed so, but one slip up could cost you a lot of money for something you don’t need.
My suggestion is to simply change your wake word to something a little more complex.
How do I change the wake word on Alexa?
The term “Alexa” can get triggered from a range of other words which sound very similar, if you match the syllables, Alexa will essentially pick this straight up. BUT you can change this.
There are two places you can do this, the Alexa device itself and the Alexa App.
Via the Alexa Device:
Ask Alexa “Alexa, change the wake word.”, Alexa will then offer a choice which you can simply reply with the choice. The choices are Alexa, Echo, Amazon, and Computer.
Via the Alexa App:
- Open the Amazon Alexa app on your phone.
- Tap the More icon (three horizontal lines) in the upper left corner.
- Select Settings.
- Pick the Device whose wake word you wish to change.
- Tap the Wake Word setting.
- Select the new wake word you’d like from the drop-down.
How do I stop purchases on Alexa?
When you register an Alexa device, voice purchasing is enabled by default. This means for every device you add to your network voice purchasing will need to be disabled.
This is done very easily:
- Go to the menu and select Settings
- Then Select Alexa Account and then Voice Purchasing, this will show you various options.
Alternatively, you can password protect making purchase orders on Alexa, this is great for when you have kids or want to stop friends from ordering stuff when you leave the room. Yes, that has happened before.
- Launch the Alexa app.
- Tap the Menu tab in the upper left corner.
- Tap Settings.
- Open Alexa app, Tap Menu, then tap Settings
- Scroll down and tap Voice Purchasing.
- Enter a four-digit passcode into the confirmation code box.
- Tap Save Changes.
Now when you ask Alexa to order something, you will get the response:
“Tell me your voice code.”
These are the main risks of smart home technology, at the end of the day, it’s the same as any other device which connects to the internet. If you keep everything up to date, keep your network secure and follow basic security practices, you should be fine.
If you want to see the benefits of Smart Home Automation, I have a PDF on this you may be interested in which you can check out here.